Whether youâre talking colleagues or old camp friends, a wedding is such a personal affair that you should only invite the people you really want to come. So, sure, ask your office mates, but keep wedding chatter to a minimum in the workplace. And as tempting as hand-delivery may be, mail invites to their home addresses. The one sticky issue is your boss. If you collaborate closely with him or her, consider sending an invitation for political reasons. That said, never feel obligated to include anyone. Itâs your day! Celebrate it with those you care about most.
Sending announcements is by no means mandatory, but, "It's a very nice thing to do," says contributing editor Peter Callahan, owner of Peter Callahan Catering. "The tradition is civilized and purposeful, because you are personally letting peopleâwho might otherwise hear the news secondhandâknow about this momentous occasion in your life." The printed note can simply state (along with the weddingâs date and location) that the bride and groom "announce their marriage." What it should not be is a solicitation for gifts. Unless someone's been invited to the wedding, theyâre not expected to give a present.
The key here is to find a point person whom you can make aware of the situationâand chances are his wife isnât the best pick. What about talking to a mutual friend the husband (letâs call him Mike) respects? Say something like, "I donât want to curb anyoneâs good time, but Iâm worried about Mike. Could you help keep an eye on him?" If his buddies can curtail pre-partying and attempt to steer him away from the strongest drinks during the cocktail hour, itâs likely going to be more effective than a potentially awkward conversation with his wife.
A gift for the parents is discretionary. But unless you want to start a War of the Roses, both mothers should receive an offering of approximate equal monetary value if you decide to give one. That doesnât mean you canât personalize your momâs with something meaningful and special, like an engraved dual frame with side-by-side photos from your big day and hers, or a handkerchief bearing a hand-embroidered message. Words say a lot, tooâa heartfelt letter acknowledging her role will also go a long way.
The key is to ask for specific assistance. Generalities like âI need help! Thereâs tons to do!â sound vast and ominous. However, statements like, âLetâs go hear some music!â sound manageable, and even enjoyable. Create a timeline of to-dos so that you both know exactly what has to be done and when. Then pick tasks heâll enjoy, such as selecting the menu or planning the honeymoon. Also, see if heâs willing to pitch in on the not-so-fun activities, like getting the guest list excel sheet in tip-top shape or proofreading the invitation.
Address save-the-dates exactly as you would the inner envelope of a wedding invitation. That means âand Guestâ if friends are welcome to bring a companion whose name you donât know, and listing the children or simply writing âThe Smith Familyâ when the whole gang is invited. Not only is that proper etiquette, it also gives people the information they need to plan ahead (like whether they need to hire a babysitter for the event).
A wrist corsage is only as old-fashioned as its design. To give yours a modern look, try a flower that is big and elegant, like a gardenia or a flat garden rose, and opt for a ribbon base over an elastic band. Or, try something entirely different, like a flower tucked in the back of upswept hair. For this, gardenias, garden roses, or cattleya orchids work nicely with rose leaves, camellia, or galax to add a little greenery. Another option is to carry a small nosegay of lily of the valley, muscari, violets, or sweet peas. That way, you can pick up the bouquet for photos and the processional, and leave it on the table when itâs time to hit the dance floor.
The good news is, she's your mom. Sheâs probably been plenty honest with you on other occasions. So voice your opinion, but do it gentlyâand specifically. Point out one aspect of the dress that is not the most flattering, such as, âThe color washes you out.â Then, turn the situation into an opportunity to have a fun shopping day together. That way, you're offering help and bonding time instead of just criticism. One note of caution: If itâs your mother-in-lawâs dress that you hate, itâs probably best to keep your opinion to yourself for the sake of your future relationship.
Once people have publicly declared their social statusâby marrying, getting engaged, or moving in togetherâthey should be invited as a unit. Include spouses, fiancĂ©s, and live-in partners on your invitations. It can be trickier when youâre dealing with longtime couples who donât cohabitate, especially if youâre not good friends with both people. Try setting a no exceptions cutoff: If a couple has been dating less than a year, only the partner youâre close to is invited, for example. Or, include the significant other only if one of you has met him or her. Just explain that your numbers are limited and your friends wonât take this personally.
You donât need to run all over town delivering gifts. This sort of attention is one of the perks guests sacrifice when they find their own lodging. But if several people are staying in the same place and you only have to make one additional trip, drop off the goodies for them too. Or, greet all the guests who have traveled with something easy, like packets of maps, lists of activities, and handwritten notes to the different locations.
Itâs perfectly okay to invite some people only to the party. As far as the invitations go, everything, including the save-the-dates and response cards, should focus on the reception. The ceremony shouldnât be mentioned, so steer clear of ambiguous expressions like, âcelebrate our wedding.â To invite a select few to your vow exchange, include an extra slip in their invitations requesting their presence. Itâs important to tell these guests that the ceremony will be very small, so they don't gush about it in front of non-invitees. If any receptionâonly guests ask you why they werenât invited, explain that itâs for immediate family only and that you hope theyâll make it to the party.
When someone does this, itâs time to pick up the phone. Let them know your list is restricted and that you donât have room for guests of guests. Keep it friendly, and mention that youâd love to see their friends (or spend time with their children) another time. Be delicate, but donât back down.
Guests who want to celebrate your marriage will make the effort to be there no matter what day you pick. But a Sunday wedding could interfere with a Monday workday for traveling attendees. If you have a lot of out-of-towners, consider a daytime affair, like a festive brunch; those who want to fly home on Sunday night can still do so. Whatever you decide, send out save-the-dates at least six months prior to give invitees plenty of time to deal with logisticsâand maybe even ask for Monday off!
In a word: No. The only proper way not to invite them is to simply not write their names on the envelope when addressing the invite. It is not gracious to say, essentially, âsome people are not invitedâ on your invitation. Go ahead and mention the situation in any of the extra materials you might send; the save-the-dates and hotel information can say, âSince children wonât be invited to the ceremony and reception, please let us know whether you will need help finding a babysitter.â Or, call the parents on the list before you address the invitations to inform them that children will not be invited and ask if they need help finding a babysitter. That way you can smooth any ruffled feathers ahead of time.
Make a phone call immediately after the deadline to anyone who hasnât responded, especially because a lack of responses might indicate either the invitation or the reply has gone astray. If thatâs a lot of phone calls, delegate this task to loved ones. If you end up playing phone tag, leave a message in your second phone call that says, âIf we donât hear from you by Thursday, weâll put you down as a no. Sorry to miss you.â
Even though having everyone participate so fully in the day would be festive, dictating your guestsâ attire is stepping slightly into control-freak territory. The key lies in how you ask. Save-the-dates are the appropriate place to make this kind of suggestion; use a casual phrase like, âWeâre hoping everyone will indulge us and dress in âŠâ If you want to communicate your wish on the actual invitation, donât use the classic format for attire info (e.g. âblack tieâ). Put it on a separate slip of paper, dialing down the pressure and emphasizing the sense of personalization. Alternately, you can spread the word in person or via a friendly group email.
Donât wait. Your friends and family are probably eager to know that their presents have arrived safely and whether you like them. Ideally, thank-you notes should be written within a few days of receiving a present; only when many of them arrive at once are you allowed a longer grace period. Not only is writing these notes now polite, but it will save you time in the long run.
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